Aquaponic Gardening

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So I had initially planned on setting my IBC system up on the back deck but got concerned with the weight ( i have a large deck, but I rent), I set it up just behind the deck, so i could plug it in, but am now having problems with my boys wanting to climb onto it (because it is level with deck now), and it is crowded where I set it up.  I was dumb and put it next to a hydrangea, which will be impossible to get past on one side once it blooms.  I want to move it to and area at the back of my yard, the owners had a gazebo brick patio there and the frame would be perfect to set up a green house (I think I would just need to wrap it).  My concern is running an extension cord about 50' across the yard to power my pump, and also how difficult is it to move it?  Do I try and preserve my water (it just cycled, i think)?  Or ought I have enough time to start over and plant this spring?  I do not have fish, and have been growing winter greens, with not much action because my 3 yr old "helped." 

I have thought about solar pumping, but on a bit of a budget until i can prove to the husband that this is worth the upfront effort. 

Any ideas?  I have yet to find someone near me to help with all this and am kind of trial and erring it myself. 

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Replies to This Discussion

My system runs off a 50 foot extension cord - no problem.  the biggest problem you'll have is draining your system (trying to keep as much of the water you can) to be able to move it.  If you could get some 50 gallon barrels that may help, good luck!

I was more concerned with killing the grass, mowing, kids tripping.  I guess it won't do too much damage.  The thing is super heavy! I have some bins that I think I can save the water in.  Also, do you know if i need to clean the tank? there is a small film of algae (i am guessing) on the sides. 

Gillian-

As it is a job to relocate an aquaponic system, I have done it before so "the voice of experience".  IMHO, saving your water is a good idea but saving the bacteria is the better idea.  As you remove the media (if this is the configuration of your system) save the media below the 2" level of the media.  This is where your bacteria live and do their thing.  Quickly as possible, transfer the media into a dark barrel(s) and cover them with a few inches of the original water.  Move your system,get it level and fill the FT with dechlorinated water and add a 1/4-cup of ammonia.  Be sure this ammonia doesn't have ANY detergent or fragrence added, you want just pure ammonia.  This will ensure that your bacteria ladened media will have something to feed upon when the transfer is complete.  Remember that you are NOT a gardener, or aquaculturist, you are a bacterialogist.  As long as your bacteria are happy your fish and plants will also be happy.

  As to running the 50' extention cord to your system, there should be no problem.  I have used one for two years now and it works fine.  Be sure to have one that is rated as heavy-duty, you know the ones that are really thick and only have one outlet on the end.  Going solar is the ticket if your finances can handle it.

Don't wash the film off the inside of the tank, that is probably algae and bio-slime and it is also part of your bio-filter.

If you can arrange to move everything in stages such that you can keep things from totally drying out, you will keep your bacteria alive better.

As to the extension cord,  Yes heavy duty is good.  Make sure it is run in such a way that it won't get mowed, that is probably the most dangerous part of using extension cables outdoors.

Solar may sound good but if you can't afford to go fairly big and also get the proper charge controller and battery bank then it will be very disappointing.  Those little harbor freight solar pumps WON'T cut it.

Thanks!  When you guys say quickly, should i be trying to move this all in a day?  I might have access to a fork lift truck or something similar, so it may be easier.  My long term goal is solar, but my next "big" goal is GH.  I just needed some support to moving will make me happier in the long run :) 

I guess the rule of thumb at this point is - the faster the better as the others have mentioned this is more a bacterial "farm" more than anything else.  If it's going to take you more than one day then I would suggest using Leo's suggestion of saving the media with some of your water, that will last you a few days if that is what it is going to take.  The reason I was mentioning keeping the water is that most water you get from the tap will have chlorine, so if you don't keep you're water and use it from the tap you have a bigger chance of killing your bacteria.

I planned on keeping as much as I can. We have hard water, and I have been working on this since November. Granted it has been cold.

hmmm cold can be a big factor when it comes to creating the bacteria.  The colder the worser (is that a word?).  I would say keep as much as you can then if you are already cycled.

I agree with all that has been advised. As for the extension cord you can use a heavy duty cord or a cheaper route would be romex wire. That is standard house wiring. As long as you're not using more than about 1200 watts you'll be fine with14-3 size wire. Either way to avoid running it across your yard for various reasons just take a shovel and pus it into the ground wiggling it bad and forth to separate the dirt. Do this the full length to the tank. It's not code but it will work to bury the cord.

I figure I would pass on this tip.  If you use water from the tap (hose) to get a de-chlorinator I use boogie blue which is good for 35,000 gallons and can be attached straight to a hose, I use this straight to my top up tank, and have major success with it, and am no longer scared of killing my bacteria.  I top up my 50 gallon top up tank every week with it.  I figure I'll buy it every 8 monhts or so just to be safe, I also have it attached when I'm cleaning my radial filter or if i'm spraying down plants to get rid of aphids/gnats and am not worried one bit that it the water will get into my system.

Never heard of boogie blue before. I've been storing water in a trash can to use as top off water and transferring it with a sump pump. Sure would be easier to go straight from the tap.
 
Matt Miskinnis said:

I figure I would pass on this tip.  If you use water from the tap (hose) to get a de-chlorinator I use boogie blue which is good for 35,000 gallons and can be attached straight to a hose, I use this straight to my top up tank, and have major success with it, and am no longer scared of killing my bacteria.  I top up my 50 gallon top up tank every week with it.  I figure I'll buy it every 8 monhts or so just to be safe, I also have it attached when I'm cleaning my radial filter or if i'm spraying down plants to get rid of aphids/gnats and am not worried one bit that it the water will get into my system.

I agree with Jeff's reply to put it in the ground.  When I ran my Romex across the driveway, I purchased 2, 10' foot lengths of 2" PVC and a coupling and threaded the Romex through it and then buried it across the driveway.  This insured the sharp rocks wouldn't cut through the cord when the spring thaws came.  So far after three years it is still working, I guess.  If you are just going to do this for a season then just buring the cord should be fine.  I don't know if the bacteria would affect the plastic of the coard but it should work.  Be sure that the cord is buried deep enough so it doesn't rise in any places and the tendancy of running over it with the lawnmower and cutting it won't be a factor.

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